tag : bright yellow-green apples: the word in the world

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Thursday, September 30, 2004

the word in the world


figure 5.6. markers on our way

Camille’s come out again with some stimulating musings. One part of here exploration brings to mind certain perennial themes which seem to doggedly follow me wherever I go:

“each one of those words brings to mind a different image and yet all make me want to bathe
and in it lies all of our cravings and yearnings to be...”

Themes of words. In my dealings with the great variety of other Christians out there, I've often found myself frustrated to the point of abjection by the apparent obsession with dealing with everything through the medium of words. But it has been the increasing realisation of the plurality of words in conveying meaning which has, recently, meant I’ve found them once again a potential communicator of encounter. And this gave me feelings of 'permission' to dabble in poetry and messy prose. There are some who lead the way, hold our hands as we scribble. Consider this piece by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

It was a hard thing to undo this knot.
The rainbow shines, but only in the thought
Of him that looks. Yet not in that alone,
For who makes rainbows by invention?
And many standing round a waterfall
See one bow each, yet not the same to all,
But each a hand's breadth further than the next.
The sun on falling waters writes the text
Which yet is in the eye or in the thought.
It was a hard thing to undo this knot.

And this discussion, with Tom, has crystallised what’s been floating around in my head. That words, whether to be found in scripture, conversation, newspaper, story, or whatever, have double edged potential in the way people bring them to us. Language is necessary, desirable even, for approaching the reality as it can add layers and meaning and connection, in balance with open contemplation. On the negative side we find some coming to us trying to use ‘common sense’ to kill off any meaning living in a word that doesn’t fit their own, and we see others who are using slippery tricksyness with language in order to allow them to commit terrible abuses, duplicity, and perversions. I’m sure you can think of very pertinent examples to both of those, I’ll be diplomatic and not name names! The point is that they are seeking to abuse langauge to thier own ends, and abuse us in the process. On the positive side there are some who forge personal meaning, who bring us coloured variety of meaning through the delving with words, rather like guides in the new wildernesses we keep stumbling into.

Take care to seek out these guides to the interconnected wilderness, rather than the fossilising collectors who destroy by trying to fix objects in preservative. The trick is, also, to try and develop the awareness needed to be good responsible users of language ourselves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is especially interesting given my current studies on Wittgenstein, who is turning out to be very interesting indeed! we look with special detail at his Language Games Theory, but touch base with Picture Theory aswell...

one thing i found very interesting was his ideas of the "Mystical" or "Unutterable"... that is, his understanding and embracing of the limitations of language... we cannot describe the aroma of coffee, nor may we describe the effect of a piece of music on us. Yet it is precisely these mystical and unutterable things which Wittgenstein is interested in!

also this leads nicely to the notion that God is above and beyond our religion... that all religions are trying to find ways of meaningfully talking about their own experiences of the mystical and unutterable, and that- along the way- we've made rather a mess of things, trying to seperate one expression from abother...

words. interesting things. :o)

-ash (aware very much i've given you a small run down on Wittgenstein rather than saying much constructive about your post, which i liked rather a lot!)

4:17 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

I'm just having a quick glance, and this Wittgenstein seems both intresting & highly pertinant.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah... he's a good lad :o)
that's a brilliant website by the way... i've added it to my favourites under "reference" ;o)

1:43 AM  

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